Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Hierba del marrano

with 38 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

On the far side of the pond in San Marcos from the place where I took pictures on November 15 of a bird holding a frog in its bill, I found a type of aster known botanically as Symphyotrichum subulatum and colloquially as eastern annual saltmarsh aster, or by some in Texas as hierba del marrano (hierba is pronounced the same as its alternate spelling yerba). Translated loosely, the Spanish name means pigweed, but I find the plant as attractive as pigs are alleged to do. Last fall I showed a view of this kind of aster, though from below. Either way, I hope you’ll enjoy this little wildflower, which is common in Austin and its surroundings.

For more information about Symphyotrichum subulatum, including a state-clickable map showing the many places in eastern North America where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 22, 2012 at 6:16 AM

38 Responses

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  1. There’s something about new buds waiting to pop open that is just so beautiful. I feel a sort of anticipation looking at this photo :).


    November 22, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    • I’m with you on that, Cindy. I often see plants with adjacent parts that are in different phases of development, especially the one that follows the two shown here (more on that next time).

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2012 at 6:26 AM

  2. Faszinierende Blüte, die gut tut, bei all dem Novembergrau 🙂


    November 22, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    • Mathilda finds this flower fascinating, and she says it does her good on all these gray November days. I think many people in northern Europe must feel that way as they go further into the bleakest time of year. I’m glad I can send some floral sunshine up from Austin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2012 at 6:34 AM

  3. Aussi belle en bouton qu’éclose.
    Bonne journée


    November 22, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    • Val finds this as lovely when it’s a bud as when the flower has opened.

      Le mot éclose me rappelle encore une poésie de Ronsard, “Ode à Cassandre”:

      Mignonne, allons voir si la rose
      Qui ce matin avait déclose
      Sa robe de pourpre au soleil,
      A point perdu cette vesprée
      Les plis de sa robe pourprée,
      Et son teint au vôtre pareil.

      Las ! voyez comme en peu d’espace,
      Mignonne, elle a dessus la place,
      Las, las ses beautés laissé choir !
      Ô vraiment marâtre Nature,
      Puisqu’une telle fleur ne dure
      Que du matin jusques au soir !

      Donc, si vous me croyez, mignonne,
      Tandis que votre âge fleuronne
      En sa plus verte nouveauté,
      Cueillez, cueillez votre jeunesse :
      Comme à cette fleur, la vieillesse
      Fera ternir votre beauté.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2012 at 6:40 AM

  4. It’s a lovely little flower that brought a little smile when I realized you’d posted a photo of pigweed on the very day when so many people are going to anticipate and then reflect upon “making pigs of themselves”. Happy Thanksgiving!


    November 22, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    • The link between pigweed and pigging out on Thanksgiving was a purely subconscious one on my part, I assure you. (I’ll clarify, too, that as far as I know no one refers to this wildflower in English as pigweed, a name that is used for other species.)

      The wording of your first sentence reminded me of Longfellow’s short nursery rhyme:

      There was a little girl,
      Who had a little curl,
      Right in the middle of her forehead.
      When she was good,
      She was very good indeed,
      But when she was bad she was horrid.

      I hope none of us will be too horrid in our eating today. Enjoy your holiday!

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2012 at 7:38 AM

      • I can’t tell you how many times I heard that rhyme about the little girl when I was a little girl! Great memories.


        November 22, 2012 at 8:05 AM

        • My father used to read it to us, along with many other things, when we were children. I remembered it as a nursery rhyme, and therefore anonymous, but I was surprised (last year, I think) to find out that Longfellow wrote it. Happy memories to us all.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 22, 2012 at 8:55 AM

  5. I used to say that poem to my daughter when she was being “stubborn”:D I love this little aster, but I think I love her bud more. It’s very pretty how it goes from pink to lavender. Flowers like these are a distant memory for us now.

    Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

    November 22, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    • Not till I took this picture did I realize how pink the folded-in ray flowers of this species can be, in contrast to the pale violet tinge they take on once the flower head has opened.

      Yes, as also expressed in the second comment above, from Germany, those of you up north won’t see scenes like this again till spring, whereas there are still various sorts of wildflowers here in central Texas. I’ll do my best to keep providing all of you with floral visions to tide you over.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2012 at 8:53 AM

  6. Up here in Toronto, we’re having an unusually warm and sunny November, so my asters are still clinging to their colour. But, it won’t be long until I’ll be relying on you, Steve, for a dose of colour. I’m so glad I found your site.

    Joan Leacott

    November 22, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    • I’m surprised that your asters are hanging on in Toronto. They’re normal here in late November, but I wouldn’t have expected them this late so far north. In any case, as you said, you’re welcome to stop by here for wildflowers later this season and earlier next year than you’re likely to find any equivalents up there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2012 at 8:57 PM

      • The lovely days are a pleasant surprise for us, too. But, scattered flurries and 36F are expected for Sunday. Sigh. We all knew it was too good to last.

        Joan Leacott

        November 24, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        • You are in Canada, after all, so forthcoming flurries and near-freezing temperatures are only to be expected at this time of year. That’s why I moved to the southern United States. In Austin today the morning brought clear skies, and even after the recent passage of a cold front, the temperature now at 3:00 in the afternoon is 63°F. I was out taking pictures for more than two hours. Yay, warmth!

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 24, 2012 at 3:03 PM

  7. The picture has such beauty in its simplicity… and in the details.


    November 22, 2012 at 6:26 PM

  8. Your camera skills really made this little flower bloom.


    November 22, 2012 at 10:06 PM

  9. Asters are my favourite flowers here in autumn. This one is very beautiful as well as your photo 🙂

    Inspired and pretty

    November 22, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    • Merci, Jocelyne. Vivent les asters!

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2012 at 11:30 PM

      • Ah ! Tu parles français ? Eh bien ça alors !

        Inspired and pretty

        November 23, 2012 at 9:04 AM

        • Ce ne sont pas seulement les québécois qui connaissent le français et l’anglais. Connais-tu le blog de ta compatriote Anne Jutras?

          Dans ma réponse au troisième commentaire, qu’a écrit une française, j’ai cité un poème de Ronsard.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 23, 2012 at 9:19 AM

          • Oui, je connaîs Anne, je l’ai découverte l’hiver dernier, je l’adore !
            Mais toi, est-tu Québécois ou Français, ou un Américain qui a appris le français ? Quelle curieuse ! 🙂

            Inspired and pretty

            November 23, 2012 at 9:23 AM

            • J’ai étudié le français au lycée et à l’université (à New York) il y a longtemps, mais je continue à apprendre des choses: dans le blog d’Anne cette semaine j’ai appris les verbes zieuter et baragouiner (elle adore les onomatopées). J’ai un autre blog où je me dédie aux liens entre l’espagnol et l’anglais.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 23, 2012 at 9:40 AM

  10. […] took this picture, like the previous one showing a flower head of this species in its prime, on November 15th at the Spring Lake Natural Area in San Marcos, a town about 40 miles south of […]

  11. It is very pretty, and I liked the seed-head version too. I’ve seen some of the asters up here do that too.


    November 24, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    • Another good thing about this species is that it can usually be found flowering in Austin from July through December, or fully half the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2012 at 6:37 AM

  12. A daisy by any other name….That bud is so beautiful too! Liked. Come see mine, the latest post!


    November 25, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    • Till this encounter I’d never noticed that pale orange-pink color in the tips of the unfolding rays. Live and learn (and experiment, as you did).

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2012 at 6:45 AM

      • Yes, I do like to experiment with my photography! Thanks for visiting. As to your question, I’m not a botanist, but the daisy in my post is what we call a giant daisy, the largest which is not a gerbera. The colour in the middle part was an orangey-rich yellow with white petals and the greenery is a silvery sage green; my particular flower was growing on a big beautiful bush in full sun, and taken as a macro. Standard stuff! :O)


        November 26, 2012 at 9:10 PM

  13. […] Natural Area in San Marcos on November 15th, during the same session that brought you pictures of hierba del marrano, ball moss, and most notably a bird holding a frog in its […]

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